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Warm Fuzzies: Interview with Betz White

Warm Fuzzies

Whether you're interested in creating unique home décor or fashionable new accessories to perk up your wardrobe, there's a project in Warm Fuzzies that fits your needs. In this helpful resource, author Betz White guides you through over 30 different felting projects, ranging from colorful felted Christmas tree ornaments to a bomber hat designed to keep your ears warm on even the coldest winter days.

Felting without the Work of Knitting

If you love the look of felted wool, but lack the patience or skill to first knit your items by hand, Warm Fuzzies is the book for you! In Warm Fuzzies, all of the projects are created using wool sweaters found at thrift shops and consignment stores. This focus on using recycled materials, in addition to being environmentally-friendly, gives you the freedom to stretch your creativity. Instead of spending hours knitting an item to felt, simply toss your old sweaters into the washing machine and cut them apart to stitch into a Rainbow Bag with waves of vibrantly colored felt or a darling Teacup Jumper for your favorite little princess. Since wool sweaters are cheap and easy to find, you can even experiment with different colors and textures to customize the projects to fit your personal sense of style.

Beautiful photos and clearly written instructions make Warm Fuzzies an indispensable book for fiber arts fans of all ages and skill levels. Of course, for those who've never tried felting before, Betz White offers an easy to follow tutorial in the book's introduction. A quick overview of techniques such as sewing, fusing, appliqué, and needle felting is also provided as a handy reference for novice crafters.

Interview with Betz White

Recently, Betz White took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the readers of LoveToKnow Crafts.

How would you describe your personal crafting style?

I would say my crafting style (from a design sense) is clean, colorful and whimsical. I'm pretty focused and I like to explore things in depth before I move on. I really love playful twists and enjoy the unexpected. I've been immersed in "recycled" felting for quite some time and am starting to branch off into other areas of repurposing and refashioning secondhand items.

What made you become interested in felting?

I studied Fashion Design in college and learned to use the knitting machine. At some point I discovered felted wool (more technically, fulling) and began experimenting with knitting wool, shrinking it, then cutting and sewing it. I just love the look and feel of felted wool. It's very forgiving to sew with. Its texture swallows up stitches so even an imperfect seam is not noticeable. It can be steamed and shaped and responds well to direction!

Since felting is most often associated with knitting, how did you get the idea to write a book showing crafters how to make felted projects from old wool sweaters?

Betz White; image used with her permission
Betz White

I found that I could experiment faster (and more cheaply!) by felting wool that was already knit, via secondhand sweaters. It proposes a different sort of design challenge. You can't just walk into a thrift shop and buy the exact color you want. I feel that the limitations of using what's available often yields a more unexpected and interesting result. I started working this way back in the early 90s and I began selling my work. The book concept came along later.

In your opinion, what level of sewing skill is needed to complete the projects in your book?

It's definitely not a Sewing 101 book. A crafter should know their way around a sewing machine. Beyond that, there are projects a beginner sewer can do as well as more challenging designs better suited for an intermediate sewer.

What is your favorite project from Warm Fuzzies? Why?

I love the Breakfast in Bed Pillow! It's just my corny sense of humor. It was so fun to come up with the various foods and how to create each one. There are so many happy projects to choose from, it's hard to pick a favorite.

What advice do you have for those in search of sweaters to use for their felting projects? Is there an easy way to tell if the sweater you've chosen will work well for the felting process? Do you buy sweaters with a specific project in mind or simply pick up whatever appeals to you on a particular day?

I go to thrift stores pretty frequently, at least once every two weeks. I've shrunken hundreds of sweaters, so I am pretty skilled at spotting what's going to work best. Even then, I still get a surprise on occasion. It is an art, not a science! The more wool content, the better. Other animal fibers, such as angora and mohair are good, too. The more you felt, the more you get a feel for it. Gap, Old Navy, and Lands End seem to work the best for me. A Fair Isle sweater will shrink more heavily (thick) than a plain solid because of the stranding on the back. I go by color rather than end use. If it's beautiful and it felts, I can make something out of it!

Aside from your book, what other resources would you recommend for crafters interested in learning more about felting?

Felting is really popular right now, especially needle felting--which is a great embellishment to recycled felting! There is also wet felting as well as felting handknits. Many Web sites and magazines delve into the various techniques. Explore a variety of crafting Web sites such as Whip Up, as most have a category devoted to felting.

Do you have any other comments, suggestions, or ideas you wish to share with the readers of LoveToKnow Crafts?

Don't be afraid to cut into that sweater! Wash it, shrink it, and experiment! The materials are relatively inexpensive and so versatile. Watch out, it's also very addictive!

Additional Information

~ A review copy of Warm Fuzzies was provided by the publisher.

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Warm Fuzzies: Interview with Betz White